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Purveyors of The Mustard

Honesty

Posted on by zach

After my last post, openly (even brazenly) admitting to a few of the mistakes we’ve made in the last year, I received a number of comments showing support for both our business and for us personally. I cannot tell you how wonderful it feels to get this type of feedback from folks – thank you. The love is mutual.

There are two ideas I would like to address: honesty and sympathy. I’ll start with the latter.

Sympathy, the way I define it – taking responsibility for someone else’s feelings – is not an emotion I find very productive (Empathy - understanding someone else’s feelings - on the other hand, is quite different). I don’t want anyone’s sympathy. I never want anyone to ever feel bad for me or my business. James and I are 100% responsible for everything that happens (or doesn’t happen) with our business, and we feel very strongly about this. No one should ever take responsibility for those mistakes. That responsibility is ours.

Honesty

One friend messaged me because he was concerned with the tone of my last post. His concern was specific to my admitting of mistakes. He was of the opinion that we should never admit mistakes to the public. Moreover, that for a business to admit to such mistakes is “PR suicide”. And before anyone who may disagree with this viewpoint (including myself – I’ll get to that in a second) feels the need to express something different, please do so with respect; my friend said this to me from a place of love and respect. I just disagree with this way of thinking.

Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I feel like many newer businesses, especially entrepreneurial ones, are changing the paradigm of how to be successful and profitable. Honesty and openness are a big part of this. Additionally I find it it hilarious when a stodgy, old-school business tries to “be real” and connect with its customers. It’s like someones dad trying to be hip and listening to rap music – the intention just isn’t there. I understand that from a “corporate” standpoint admitting faults or mistakes may be harmful to a business and could leave it open to some sort of litigation, but those are the consequences of making mistakes. I call it taking responsibility. When you screw up, own up to it, apologize if necessary, and move forward. This is why I take umbrage when organizations say, “We probably could have made different decisions at that juncture” or something along those lines. They are being dishonest. It may not be a straight up lie, but it is not straight up. Mistakes are not intentional; that’s what makes them mistakes. And making them doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad company – it makes you human. And if you are smart, you make lots of mistakes and learn from them. Just be honest. A little while back my good friend Joe wrote a short post on making mistakes (with a link to one of my favorite Jordan commercials). I agree with his viewpoint.  http://thejoesweeney.wordpress.com/2010/12/22/120-of-25737/

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